Will Smith Visits L.A. Lakers and Talks About Having ‘Gratitude in Times of Great Challenge’

Actor Will Smith Warner Bros.  In Pictures "Focus"  Premiere at the TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood, California on February 24, 2015.

Actor Will Smith at the Warner Bros. Premiere at the TCL Chinese Theater on February 24, 2015 in Hollywood, California. Pictures attends the “Focus” premiere.

Jason Merritt/Getty Will Smith

Will Smith is returning to acting and the public eye.

The Los Angeles Lakers announced Wednesday that the 54-year-old actor, who has been silent since the Oscars controversy in March, has returned to the team as part of the Lakers’ Genius Talks. The event is an annual conference where celebrities speak to the group to provide inspiration.

The Oscar winner was presented with a No. 14 Lakers jersey and photographed with the team and team owner Jenny Buss and general manager Rob Pelinka. According to the Lakers, the actor spoke about “strength through unity and practicing gratitude in times of great challenge.”

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The team is currently in the middle of a losing season.

Smith’s message is said to be “inspired by themes from his upcoming blockbuster film. Emancipation.”

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Also sharing the group photo, Smith wrote on Instagram: “Given the @lakers a sneak peek of #Emancipation and a great conversation about the film for their Genius Series… Huge thanks to everyone who came!! Next stop… My @sixer.”

Apple Original Films released the official trailer for the film earlier this month, in which Smith plays a man who escapes slavery and goes on a quest for freedom.

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At a screening of the film in early October, Smith elaborated on the film’s theme and message.

“Throughout my career, I’ve turned down a lot of films that I’ve been enslaved to,” Smith said on the show. those The Hollywood Reporter. “I never wanted to show us that. And then this picture came out. And it’s not a film about slavery. It’s a film about freedom. It’s a film about resilience. It’s a film about faith. It’s a film about the heart of a man – In what could be called the first viral image, cameras were invented, and the image of Peter whipped around the world.”

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It’s his first film since the comedian slapped Chris Rock in front of a live audience after he made a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, at the 94th Academy Awards.

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Smith won Best Actor that night for him King Richard performance, he resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and was eventually banned from attending Academy events for a decade after the incident.

Smith won Best Actor at this year’s BET Awards in June, but did not attend the event.


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